The Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument: Evidence from Neuroscience
Playing a musical instrument is a hobby that has been on many people’s to-do list for years. Whether it’s taking up the guitar or joining a jazz band, the thought of being able to play an instrument is exciting. However, there is more to playing a musical instrument than just having fun. In fact, neuroscience research has shown that playing an instrument can have significant benefits for brain development and cognitive function.
Learning An Instrument Accelerates Brain Development
When children learn to play a musical instrument, it has a positive impact on their social, emotional, and cognitive development. Research conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Southern California found that music instruction can speed up the development of the auditory pathway in the brain and increase its efficiency.
The lead author of the study, Assal Habibi, explained that the results reflect that children who have had music training are more accurate in processing sound than those who have not. Learning to play a musical instrument is like training the brain like a muscle, as shown by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. They discovered that male musicians have larger brains than men who have not had extensive musical training.
The Special Connection In Their Brains
People who play music have a unique connection in the parts of the brain that deal with music production and social cognition. A 2012 study in Berlin showed that guitarists who were playing together underwent a remarkable synchronization of their brains during, and even just before, playing.
Moreover, another study looked at “the neural basis of creativity” by scanning guitarists while they played improvisational music. The researchers found that while playing, these guitarists momentarily deactivated a region of the brain associated with conscious thought.
The More Symmetrical Brains
Piano players come into a whole different league, as learning the piano from a young age has an impressive effect on brain development. Learning to hit different notes with both hands while navigating between 88 keys has the effect of making a person’s brain more symmetrical. According to a study, the reason for this is that piano players have to overcome a characteristic that is innate in the vast majority of people: the favoring of one hand over the other.
The central sulcus is a region of the brain that determines which hand is dominant. For most people, this region goes deeper on one side than the other, determining which hand is dominant. However, for piano players, there is a clearly demonstrable difference to the majority of other people. The central sulcus is much more symmetrical.
It may sound like we’re saying playing the piano is great because it makes your brain look aesthetically pleasing. Of course, the effects are further-reaching and have been shown to make the brain run much more efficiently overall. It leads us to think if all the percussion instruments that involve both hands have the same effect, say for drum players.
There’s More To Musicians Than Just Being Good At Music
It has been proven that musicians have different connections within their brains. This doesn’t only mean they’re good at music. Learning a musical instrument is a great passion project that can benefit your life in many different ways. Not only does it improve brain function, but it can also improve memory, promote creativity, and reduce stress levels. Plus, learning to play a musical instrument is a great way to socialize and make new friends.
The Bottom Line
Playing a musical instrument can have significant benefits for brain development and cognitive function. It speeds up the development of the auditory pathway in the brain and increases its efficiency. Moreover, people who play music have a unique connection in the parts of the brain that deal with music production and social cognition. Learning to play the piano has an impressive effect on brain development, making the brain more symmetrical overall.
There is more to learning a musical instrument than just having fun. It has been proven to improve memory function, promote creativity, and reduce stress levels. If you’re undecided about whether to take up an instrument, these benefits should be proof enough of why you should go ahead and add it to your to-do list.